MOSCOW, December 25. /TASS/. The Soviet Union’s first president, Mikhail Gorbachev believes that the Soviet authorities had underestimated the scale of inter-ethnic problems in the Soviet Union and the need for reforming the country. He is certain that the country could have survived even after the August 1991 government coup attempt as a Union of Sovereign States.
"At first we underestimated the scale and depth of the problems in inter-ethnic relations and the relations between the center and the republics. It took us too long to realize that the Union needed renewal," Gorbachev told TASS on Saturday.
He explained that the Soviet authorities’ aim was "to preserve the union and to create a real federation with real sovereignty for the republics, which delegate part of their powers to the center."
"Security, defense, the transport network, a single currency and human rights were to remain in the hands of the union authorities under the draft of the union treaty. I am certain that it was a viable option and that most republics would have supported it, but the coup upset this possibility," Gorbachev said.
"Even after the coup, when the republics proclaimed their independence and the Soviet president’s powers were seriously weakened, I remained certain that the union could be preserved. I proposed a Union of Sovereign States," Gorbachev said.
He explained that such a union would become a confederation with the constituent republics enjoying still broader powers.
"For one, they would have become UN members, while the Union would have retained its seat on the Security Council. The armed forces and nuclear weapons would have remained under a single command. I am certain that this would have been far better than what followed the Soviet Union’s collapse in reality," Gorbachev said.
Mikhail Gorbachev stepped down as the Soviet Union’s president on December 25, 1991. The Soviet Union ceased to exist on the same day.